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Djawa Yunupingu (Director, Gumatj Corporation and Marngarr Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation) and Rose Manzini (General Manager Remote

Regions, Jawun), Cape York, 2014.

Photo Daniel Linnet, Linnet Foto


Experts in the field of sustainable economic development

agree that the proven approach to building long-term

capacity is facilitating community-based Indigenous-led


After studying hundreds of reservations in the United

States, the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic

Development (HPAIED) found that sustained economic

growth occurred where decision-making was firmly in

Indigenous hands, rather than government driven.


This approach is not specific to Indigenous populations;

with a US$5 billion budget and 6,000 projects worldwide,

the United Nations Development Program has found that

the only way to achieve sustained economic growth is by

“enabling people to become actors in their own destinies”.


However, capacity building in existing initiatives can only

ever amplify an organisation’s current efforts, and can

do little if the organisation itself or the community is not

ready or is fundamentally dysfunctional. Jawun partners

must fulfil strict criteria, to ensure that communities and

organisations are well placed to extract leverage from the

model. In addition to an invitation from the community,

the key criteria Jawun looks for include:

• strong local leadership

• effective, well-governed organisations

• appetite for change and reform

• openness to new ideas

• willingness to connect and learn.